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Dick Spotswood writes a weekly column on local politics for the Marin Independent Journal. (IJ...

IN SUNDAY'S COLUMN I chided the Marin Transit District's board, including our county's supervisors, for spending $300,000 on consultants to, among other tasks, learn why Marinites don't ride local buses. I urged them instead to simply takes the bus to work to learn why others don't ride.

I first called all five supervisors and asked if they rode Marin Transit and if not, why not. Four replied. Only Supervisor Steve Kinsey was missing in action.

Supervisor Susan Adams was the only regular bus rider, though for most trips she drives. The supervisors' collective rationale for not regularly using transit was logical. It simply isn't convenient given their busy schedules and the long time it takes to travel to most places by bus.

Given that most Marinites, especially those with young children, live lives just as busy as our elected officials, that's a telling lesson.

It exposes the fallacy behind so-called transit-centered development.
Few ride transit out of some altruistic impulse. Travelers will take buses, ferries or trains only if they are convenient, charge reasonable fares and take people from home to destination in a time not much longer than it takes to drive.

For Marin travelers, the only destination that practically fits those requirements is San Francisco's Central Business District. Due to poor past regional planning, the 21st century reality is that most Marin residents' employment is elsewhere.

It might be here in the North Bay, in Contra Costa or Alameda counties or even other parts of the city, like booming Mission Bay.

For those commuters who, like our county supervisors, are not headed to the Market Street corridor, regular transit use often isn't practical.

When supervisors calling for high-density housing contend that new residents will not clog roads because they will mostly travel by transit, they are engaged in wishful thinking.
They should ask themselves a question: Would they give up their own car and rely on buses if they personally moved to Corte Madera's new 180-unit Tamal Vista Apartments?
Of course the answer will be, "I'd like to, but I can't."

They should expect the same reply from most of Tamal Vista's new residents who will be leading lives just as busy as any county supervisor.

The claim that building mammoth apartment blocks next to bus stops will somehow reduce greenhouse gases is just green-washed marketing.

If anyone should understand that truth, it's our auto-commuting elected officials.